At last night’s Andover Forum we were told about the new initiative to introduce No Cold Calling Zones into Andover. The first trial was in Hepworth Close and has proved successful.
The aim of the scheme is to deter bogus callers (distraction burglars and rogue traders) from approaching people living in the zones and give residents the confidence to say “No” to cold callers who seek business at their doorstep.
Potential zones are pinpointed by police and trading standards and then set up once residents have been consulted and are known to be in support. Other zones will also be considered if set criteria can be satisfied. Residents living in proposed zones are visited and given a special No Cold Calling Zone pack containing general consumer and safety advice. Also included is a Buy With Confidence directory of approved traders and a door sticker telling cold callers they are not welcome. Signs are then erected to identify the zones and residents are advised to report any future suspicious cold calling activity.
If you would like your street to become a no cold calling zone please let me know on 01264 356759 or [email protected]. I will collate requests and pass them on to the trading standards department.
I was recently contacted by a local resident who reported that on 26th August the King Arthur’s area was invaded by a high pressure sales team from a deaf charity. Their reflective jackets had ASDC on them and basically their patter was very similar to Time Share, Double Glazing and the early days of the Power companies. It consisted of trying to get access to each person’s home, pulling out out a form and getting them to commit to a direct debit.
This, of course, is no way for a reputable charity to behave and I referred the matter to the council’s licensing manager. The reply was less than encouraging.
Unfortunately collection of money for charitable purposes by direct debit falls completely outside of current charity collection law and there is nothing that we can do to prevent this type of activity. It is quite common and used by many of the established charities. Persons undertaking this type of work have earned the rather unkind nickname of chugger, meaning charity mugger. However I think this does indicate the level of unease over this type of activity and it is to be hoped that the new Charities Act will address this and make direct debit collections licensable. Unfortunately at the present time we do not know when the new Act will come into force.
Until the new act does come into force I would recommend all residents to ignore these high pressure techniques, never allow people into your homes if you are suspicious of them and if in doubt – contact the police.
If you really want to support a charity, do it through their website, not a chugger.
I have recently received a letter adressed to “Mr and Mrs (no surname) at my home address inside was a small note congratulating me and saying I had received a free gift. All I needed to do was phone a number and quote the hand written code on the note.
Rather than phone the number I checked out the sender on Google and found a whole load of cautionary blogs. Check yourself for “Matters Consulting Ltd Survey UK”
Best advice comes from the Trading Standards as posted on moneysavingexpert.com
I have received an enquiry from a NHW member who has received an email from a Company called Matters Consulting Ltd, t/a Survey UK of Cheltenham, www.surveygifts.co.uk. The email informs them that they are entitled to a gift donated by a local business (no name given). They quote a gift confirmation number which can either be telephoned through or by logging onto their website.Trading Standards have confirmed they have heard of this Company – they are trying to get people to join a gym by giving a free gift of a manicure or pedicure and supposedly cheaper membership to the Gym Club.”
I have thrown the letter in the bin (recycling of course) and advise all residents to do the same.
Hamshire County Council has joined a group of local authorities who have agreed to save the non-emergency 101 phone line. The possible scrapping of this service was highlighted by Test Valley Liberal Democrats last year (see December 2007 blog on this site). The county will provide £27,000 to help develop the service which is being absorbed into Hampshire Constabulary’s call handling operations.
In Hampshire and the Isle of Wight 380,000 calls have been made to the number since May 2006. I am pleased to see the county council has responded to public concerns over the loss of this service and has listened to the Lib Dem county and borough councillors championing the retention of the service.
Test Valley Borough Council is proposing introducing alcohol free zones across several of the wards of the borough. The Designated Public Places Order (DPPO) gives the Police and other accredited persons, such as Neighbourhood Wardens, the power to confiscate alcohol from anyone found to be behaving in an anti-social way whilst drinking. The extended order would not prevent consumption of alcohol but would make it an offence to continue to do so after being told to stop by a police officer, and could result in a court appearance and a £500 fine. The council is now giving residents the chance to comment on the proposals. Responses to the consultation should be sent in writing to David Smith, Housing and Community Services,Test Valley Borough Council, Beech Hurst, Andover SP10 3AJ before the 18 April 2008.
Test Valley Liberal Democrats fully support the new alcohol free zones. The initiative was first proposed by Valley Park councillor Alan Dowden in June 2007 when he submitted a motion to council calling for action to combat anti-social behaviour. Speaking at the time Cllr Dowden called for the introduction of alcohol-free areas in Test Valley. “Antisocial behaviour is one of the biggest issues with the public and a lot of it is down to alcohol. The problem is borough-wide. Alcohol-free zones will act as a deterrent, but the police will need to enforce them. The cost to the borough in criminal damage was way over £100,000 last year. The public is demanding something is done about it,” he said.
He was supported by Romsey mayor Mark Cooper who called for measures to stop young people getting hold of drink saying that “The supermarket sale of alcohol is placing large volumes of relatively cheap alcohol into the hands of immature individuals. I would favour a borough-wide ban of alcohol in public places.”
The proposal to introduce the ban in all urban areas of the borough was ratified by full council in October 2007 but needed Home Office approval before its introduction.
I welcome the public consultation. At last we are seeing some action on a problem which is of major concern to all residents. The relaxation of licensing laws has lead to an increase in drinking and drink-fuelled vandalism in public places which residents find offensive and unacceptable. We must give the police and other agencies the powers to combat this. I hope appropriate action will also be taken against those shops irresponsibly selling alcohol.
I am sure the public will give their overwhelming support to the new proposals and the police will use these new powers sparingly but effectively to reclaim our streets and parks from the minority who are spoiling them.
Liberal Democrat councillors will be monitoring the levels of anti-social behaviour in their wards and looking to review the effectiveness of the ban next year.
Test Valley Borough Council have agreed to just two funfairs at Smannell Road open space this year. This follows some residents concerns about anti-social behaviour at last year’s fairs
Funfairs will be held from Thursday 3rd to Sunday 6th April and from Thursday 11th to Saturday 13th September. At my request the organisers have agreed to extra conditions this year. This will include provision of public toilets and closer co-operation with police and neighbourhood wardens to prevent disorder.
Smannell Road is the best location for a funfair but the rights of local residents must also be protected. I am pleased the organisers have agreed to the extra conditions and am sure that the events will go off smoothly. I will be monitoring the situation and liaising with the police to ensure no problems occur.
The 101 Hampshire and Isle of Wight Partnership is very disappointed about the decision by the Home Office not to further fund the 101 service, in particular the decision to only give three months notice from today’s date.
Because of the decision by the Home Office to withdraw financial support, it is unlikely that Hampshire Constabulary and local authorities will be able to continue the service in its current form beyond February 2008. However, all 101 call handling staff will remain employees of Hampshire Constabulary beyond February 2008 and will be absorbed into other areas of the call handling operation.
Deputy Chief Constable Ian Readhead said: “101 has been a catalyst for more efficient working arrangements between Hampshire and Isle of Wight partners. There are a number of processes which will continue beyond the 101 project; these include more effective staff training, improved customer service, and efficient communication between Hampshire Constabulary and the fifteen local authorities.”
Roger Tetstall, Chief Executive of Test Valley Borough Council, added: “101 provides a real opportunity to improve services to the public by developing joint working between local authorities and the police. I am disappointed that the project has been prematurely brought to an end in this way.”
The 101 service has greatly supported partnership working between local authorities and the police as well as the work of the community safety partnerships by providing valuable intelligence to all agencies.
It continuously achieved high levels of customer satisfaction with more than 90 per cent of callers being satisfied or very satisfied with the service they have received, and 96 per cent saying that they would use the service again and recommend it to friends and family. Research suggests that, over time, 101 may have increased public confidence in the ability of the police and local authorities.
I share the disappointment of both police and council officers in this withdrawal of funding. and am supporting the Liberal Democrat campagn to extend rather than curtail the service and have signed the national petition supporting this. You can sign the petition at http://petitions.pm.gov.uk/back101/
The October council meeting backed calls by Lib Dem councillor Alan Dowden to impose alcohol free zones on all the built up areas of the borough. Cllr Dowden raised the issue because of drink fuelled vandalism in Valley Park . Having seen at first hand similar problems particularly around the Smannell Road play area and on Cricketers Way I fully supported his proposals. Local residents should not have to put up with such behaviour and the police need every help we can give to combat it. The order which covers the whole of Andover now needs Home Office approval.